May 26, 2004

Boring Weekend, New Hotel

This past weekend was boring. Saturday we moved to a different hotel in the Alexandria area. It is much closer to work, only 20 minutes instead of 45 now. The room is smaller, but I think it is comfortable. I have been sleeping much better here than at the other place. Sunday I slept in and searched for a new church. I did some research and found one! It is called CrosspointDC and is located in Arlington, which is close to where we will be living in a few weeks for the duration. Everyone was very friendly, the band was great and the pastor was humble but funny. I met lots of very nice people but am not entirely sold yet. CrosspointDC planted another church very close called BridgeWay242. I think I am going to check it out on Sunday to compare. What can I lose, right?

Monday we went back to the office. It was funny… I went through a lot of trouble last week getting new pants and getting my old and new ones altered. In the morning, I was getting dressed, put on my socks, pulled up my pants, grabbed my shoes and slipped one on my foot, except for one thing…. It was a size 8 instead of a 10.5!! Somehow, I had Del’s shoes and he had mine. But it wasn’t as easy as that, they got mixed up at Ft Hood and they were at his home in Texas! I was looking forward to wearing my Class B’s like everyone else, but that was out of the question. Del checked and found that my shoes were in fact in Texas. He had them shipped and they would arrive on Tuesday. We had a few meetings on Monday and were finished pretty early. I also learned that Kenny and I would work the 2nd shift from 1430 to 2300 for a few days. Good!! I get to sleep in for a few days! I took a drive to Ft Belvoir, which is a few miles south of where we are. It is a pretty nice post. I got a haircut (a very good one actually) a few things at the PX and some food at the Commissary... a very productive evening.

Tue I slept in very late and it felt so good. I have been so tired and it was nice to get some sleep. I left for the office at 1340 and hit some mega traffic! I didn’t get there until almost 1420 – it was no nice of them to repave in the middle of the day! We learned a lot while at work and I learned more about the building. Wed was more of the same, except the traffic was better. On a good note, I had dinner at the Air Force dining facility and it was really good... a full meal, a-la-cart for only $3.25. I was impressed. I might go there for dinner quite often! While I was sitting at a desk at the office, I watched the two helicopters that are Marine One take off and land several times. When I left for the night, I drive by the annex where they are located and watched one of them do some practice touch and go’s. I suppose they were trying to get their landing nice and soft for the president. Tomorrow we move back to a day shift and want to see what we can accomplish earlier in the day.

There is a lot of talk in the news here about the terrorists and how some might be in the US. Some of the guys are talking about going to the WWII memorial opening, but I think I am going to try to hit some of the sites away from the mall in the hopes that they will not be too crowded. And the biggest news of the night – the new American Idol is Fantasia, or as Simon says it, “Fan-tayy-seee-aah.” I love how he adds that extra syllable. I have never watched one of those shows, man it was a singing bonanza. Now I know why I don’t watch it very often.

I posted some new pictures to weeks two and three – check it out when you get a chance.

May 22, 2004

In DC!

We arrived in Washington DC on Tue! We had to drive down to Austin from Ft Hood to take a midday flight to Reagan National. We made it to DFW in good time. We were delayed at DFW first by a defective seal on a rear door by MY seat!! I’m sitting there and the door next to me in the galley pops open! He starts chipping away at this seal and little pieces are flying everywhere. He scrapes away down to bare metal and jumps out of the plane onto the top of a van. A bunch of guys mixed up some green stuff and jumped back into the plane and slathered it onto the bare spot. When they were done – it looked firm and like a seal again. Probably took them less than five minutes. The lady in front of me was freaking out and calling all her friends – I think she made other people nervous.

We took off about 30 minutes due to bad weather on the west coast. When we finally took off, the pilot told us that we were going to have to take some major detours to go around the bad weather. Instead of flying over Mississippi to DC, we were going to have to fly over Alabama to Florida, then over Georgia, and North Carolina to DC. After three hours we ended up having to circle over Raleigh-Durham, NC for about 20 minutes waiting for the bad weather to clear up over DC. We finally arrived in DC over an hour late. This presented another challenge since the hotel was no longer able to pick us up. We finally managed to hire a SuperShuttle and a taxi for the rainy ride to the hotel. We got to the hotel after 2200 and had to way to get any food – we had not eaten dinner at this point. We ordered some pizza, devoured almost all three large pizzas and hit the sack. What a long day!

Wed the 1SG and CDR went to the office at Bolling AFB to check in. The rest of us went to get our rental cars and take care of uniforms at Ft Myer. Thu we finally had the opportunity to go to The office at Bolling AFB to meet the folks that we will be working with. We got our security badges and took a tour of the facility – it is a mind boggling place... with over 5,000 employees running around in all different directions. The building is huge and has its own cafeteria, dry cleaners, stores, EAP, post office, it is a huge place. It should prove to be an interesting experience for all of us.

Fri we took care of paperwork for our lodging that we will move into next month. After that we took care of some more uniform issues and then we each took care of packing and had personal time to prepare for our move to another hotel on Sat. I am looking forward to being able to unpack my suitcases for the first time in about a month and to get semi-situated again. I will also be able to buy some groceries so that I can cook some meals in the future. I did do a little bit of grocery shopping this week at a local Safeway. I bought some orange juice, fruit and other snacks.

We move again tomorrow and pick up new rental cars. Monday we go back to the office to maybe find out what we will be doing. I finally fixed the Photo Gallery and have posted all pictures from the past three weeks. I will add Kenny’s pictures tomorrow if I can. Check it out by going to the Mob link from the home page. I need to get to bed – until next time!

May 17, 2004

You’re not going to believe this, but I got to go home again this past weekend. We completely finished all of our in processing last week and we knew that we were not going to be leaving last week, so our commander let us go for the weekend. We were released Thu around noon. Since Holly was at work still, one of our members that lives in San Antonio agreed to drop me off on the way home. I got home and was able to take care of a few odds and ends. I had lunch with my co-workers from my civilian job on Fri and we had dinner at Culver’s with our best friends Joy and TJ.

Sat Holly and I slept in and had a slow morning. We went to the IMAX later in the day and saw a movie about Coral Reefs. It was interesting, but not the best I’ve seen. Later that day we caught up with Joy and TJ again and had an awesome dinner Frank & Angie’s. My pizza was delicious! After that we listened to some good blues downtown and topped the evening off with a nice cup of coffee. We had a really good time and it was a perfect last chance to enjoy some time with my wife and good friends.

Sun we went to church again… it was funny – people told me, “I thought we got rid of you” and “wow that year flew by quick!” I have to admit – saying goodbye again is weird, but it sure was nice to be in the booth to run the computer again. Sun afternoon Holly and I drove back to Ft Hood. We had a nice dinner at a picnic table and said goodbye again. But I thought that it was going to be a final goodbye this time. It appears as if thought I might be right. Rumors are that we should have orders very soon and will very likely be on a plane to DC by mid-week. We know how strange and erroneous these things can be, so I will not be holding my breath. But, I have prayed about it and know that we will get there in His time.

Well, I need to get back to my room to start packing and cleaning, just in case we do leave soon. I hope that the next time I write, it will be from DC. Until then, pray that we get there safely.

May 11, 2004

Still Processing

Not much to report today. Monday we finished our medical processing and also flew through finance but learned that there is an issue with our entries in the computer in the personnel system. They corrected the erroneous information in the system and have been told that it takes 24-48 hours for the data to show up correctly. It did not happen today, we pray that it happens tomorrow. Yesterday we also did some stuff with legal and supply. Then near the end of the day, we managed to get a new room with a working fan, toilet and they even got the AC working in the entire building! We moved all our stuff into the new room and slept comfortably last night. It is good that we moved rooms… we were so hot Sunday night that we had to sleep with the door open and unlocked. We rigged the door with a homemade alarm system that we hoped would wake us if somebody opened the door wider than we set it. I didn’t sleep too well most of the night – I kept hearing strange sounds that kept waking me up. Last night was much better.

Today the enlisted men pulled new uniforms and other items. It was such a long wait – the poor but very nice lady that was helping us took so long because she would stop helping us to help her co-workers with their issues. She was very kind, but it took about 30 minutes for us to finish while the line behind us grew and grew. After that we had US Flags put on all our uniforms and I had everything sewed on my new uniforms. Right now we are all sitting in the ‘TV Room’ (with no TV in it) surfing the net. I am connected via dial-up and sharing it to everyone else wirelessly. We’re waiting for our clothes in the wash room to finish drying. After that, who knows what we’ll do… maybe play a game or something. With so much downtime and no wheels to go anywhere, it has been tough to keep busy. Tomorrow we don’t get busy until the afternoon. With any luck, we’ll finish personnel and be able to leave later this week.

May 9, 2004

Can you believe it?!? I am at home! They gave me a pass for the weekend. It is so nice to be home for a few days. Friday was a very productive day - we watched five videotaped briefings in the morning, had lunch and then went to the processing building to see what we could accomplish. They actually pushed us through most of the medical in one day. We had to get blood drawn, shots updated (I only needed a Typhoid shot - others needed five!) Monday we have to do a few more medical items and then we can move onto Finance and Personnel processing. We hope to be on a plane by the end of the week!

I plan to post all the photos from our adventure on a very snazzy photo gallery on my website, but I tried to upgrade it this evening and made it a mess. So, in the mean time, I have posted what we have at the following address:

I have to report back to Ft Hood on Sunday by 1800. The conditions at Hood are deplorable. The rooms are not great and are quite uncomfortable. More on that later... This is all for now. I will try to post more later this week if I can.

May 6, 2004

Yesterday (Wednesday) was fantastic! All of our families were in Bryan by noon. We all went to lunch at the best restaurant in BCS… you guessed it… The Golden Corral!! Then we had our Mob ceremony. We had several guests, including the commander for Regional Readiness Group (RRG), he is a Brigadier General, and a pretty nice guy too.

After the ceremony, we had several briefings, including health care, Red Cross and legal issues. Holly and I also got our new ID cards. She gets a tan one and I got one that says “Active Duty.” After all the briefings, we all went back to the hotel, changed clothes and went to a Mexican restaurant and had a great dinner. It was interesting… we had twenty people at two tables outside. They took drink orders and Holly also gave her food order but nobody else did. The waiter left and never came back. Next thing we know our drinks arrive along with her dinner. We sure didn’t expect them to bring her food with our drinks. I gave them hell and we had excellent service after that! We had like five waiters and stuff buzzing around our table – it was kinda funny. Anyway, after that we all parted ways and went back to the hotel for the night.

This morning, we all gathered in the lobby again and said our final goodbyes for a while. Yesterday and today have been emotional roller coasters for most of us. We have felt pride, sadness, anticipation and thankfulness. Today we head up to Fort Hood to begin out Mobilization Processing. We have no idea how it is going to go or how quickly we will be in DC. We also don’t know what lies ahead for us in the next few weeks. We understand that our primary mission is in DC, but if the Army needs us somewhere else, they will put us there. Only time will tell. I might not post for a few days while a Ft Hood as we may not have internet access. More soon.

May 4, 2004

I passed my PT test! I sure had a hard time with the pushups though. The rest of the guys that tested today are not as tall as I am. We did the test on the gym floor and it is smooth concrete. They put down a carpet and did their pushups on there. They were able to get their hands and feet on the carpet… barely. I looked at it and said, no thanks, I’ll just do it on the concrete. Well, I started out okay, but near the end, I started to shake a little bit and that little bit of shaking made my feet start to slip around. It was so slippery, that I did two over my minimum and had to stop – I was a bit disappointed – I know I could have done more. I did okay on the sit-ups and very well on the run, but it was tiring. I will have to work on that.

I had packed all my clothes so that I could take a shower at the reserve center, but while I was running, I realized that I didn’t bring a towel with me.. so back it was to the reserve center for a shower.

During the day our unit commanding officer (CO) received several phone calls. He got one phone call from someone that said that our unit mission was going to change and that we were not going to do computer security, but help with the search for WMD. This was some big news to us! Can you image being told for months that you were going to do one thing for the next year and then being told that you are not and you can’t do anything about it? Well, he made a few phone calls and was assured that we would perform our mission as planned over the next year. This was a relief to all, but to me – it really does not matter. The Army has me to do whatever mission they want me to do. I just pray that we stay in the states. Especially after hearing that today the DOD says that they are going to send an additional 10,000 Army active duty soldiers and 37,000 Army reservists and nation guard to Iraq, we are happy to go to DC. We have no idea where the DOD is going to get these soldiers. I don’t know anyone in the reserves that has not been called up.

Let’s see… today we also had an admin person come down from our higher headquarters to review our files today – mine was in order. We also cleaned up the offices, organized so that everything looks pretty for the headquarters commander, a Brigadier General, also known as a one star. He will be here tomorrow for a mobilization ceremony. We will have folks here from the Red Cross and Tricare to talk to our families. Oh yeah… I get to see Holly tomorrow! She is bringing me my bags and we get to have an evening alone together. I guess I better get to bed – long day tomorrow!

May 3, 2004

First day of our Mob to Home station in Bryan went well. This morning after I showered, I had to fit all my toiletries into my bag – this is where the problems began. I have taken many short business and leisure trips, and usually just take a few items with me, but this time I had to bring everything, you know? EVERYthing! I soon realized that I might not be able to fit everything into my suitcase! You see, due to space limitations, I had to pack only one bag with everything that I would need for a few days, and then leave my year’s worth of clothes in my three other bags at home. Holly is bringing those to me in Bryan on Wednesday. Anyway, I had to readjust and move some stuff around, but w got it all to fit.

The Executive Officer (XO) and First Sergeant (we call him Top) arrived right at 1000 as planned. We loaded up everything and headed off for the 100 mile drive to Bryan from Austin. We got there right at 1200 and went to eat lunch at my favorite eating establishment, the Golden Corral. You know, it could be worse, they spread is decent enough and has enough variety to keep me fairly happy. Besides, I am sure that this food will be much better than the food up at Fort Hood. I ate mostly carbs to bulk up for the Physical Training (PT) test in the morning at lunch and dinner.

The rest of the afternoon went fine. We went over the game plan, got paperwork in order, and got internet access working for everyone in the unit. Since we are so high tech, we have only dial-up internet access. One person has to connect to the internet and then they share their connection to us wirelessly. We all have to share a measly 30k connection, but hey! It’s internet access, right? We’ll take what we can get.

Here at the hotel, we have high speed internet access in the breakfast area – I would die without internet access! Well, I need to get to bed, big PT test tomorrow.

May 2, 2004

Welcome to my new blog page. I will try to keep you as updated as possible regarding how I am doing on this crazy adventure. Come back soon...